Losing files on your Canon camera? Don’t worry (yet), it’s a common problem. In fact, most users will be able to do Canon photo recovery on their own. This article is a step-by-step guide on how to recover deleted photos from a Canon camera (and videos), as well as a collection of useful information on the causes and prevention of data loss on Canon cameras.
Don’t worry if you’ve never done anything like this before – we made it super easy to follow, and we included screenshots of each and every step. Read on.
Is it Possible to Recover Data From a Canon Digital Camera
Yes! In most cases (barring physical damage), you should be able to recover most of your data by yourself. But you’ll need the help of good data recovery software. If I want to recover deleted photos from my Canon EOS R5, I need software that can preview RAW files, which are the unprocessed photo and video data stored on cameras before they get converted to “readable” files. Like many recent Canon cameras, it also shoots up to 8K video (7,680 x 4,320 pixels), which is 121.5GB per minute in its raw state.
We have everything you need to get started in the step-by-step guide on how to recover deleted videos from Canon cameras (as well as photos and other files). For now though, you might want to figure out what exactly caused the data loss, as well as some other useful information that will help you be more knowledgeable about your camera’s memory.
Common Data Loss Scenarios Related to Canon Cameras
Data loss on Canon cameras happens to a lot of users, and can be caused by a variety of reasons. Here are the most common ones (as well as our recommended solutions you can try AFTER recovering your data):
You accidentally deleted your files. To recover deleted pictures from Canon camera, check your recently deleted folder or use data recovery tools to restore them.
File transfer error
Errors interrupt data transfer, so you can’t copy-paste your files. Your card will fail soon. Use data recovery software to recover deleted photos from SD card (or videos) and backup those files. Then, attempt to repair it.
Formatting a card may fix it, but the process wipes your data. Use data recovery software to recover formatted SD card on Canon.
Canon firmware issues
A faulty update may corrupt your camera and the SD card. Use data recovery software to restore your data, back it up, then attempt to fix it.
You may have connected your camera to an infected device. Restore your files using data recovery software, then format.
Either your camera or SD card was physically broken, heat-damaged, water-logged, etc. You need to send your SD card to a data recovery center to restore your data.
Missing files, SD card not showing up in File Explorer, SD card is RAW
SD card may be corrupted. Before doing anything else, recover files from corrupted SD card. Then, try the following methods:
If those don’t work, restore your data using data recovery software, then format the SD card.
Popular Models of Canon Cameras
The guides we detailed below should be suitable for most modern cameras, including those used by professional photographers and videographers. Below are some of the most popular Canon cameras that will work with this method.
- Canon EOS M200
- Canon EOS R5
- Canon EOS M50
- Canon EOS R6
- Canon EOS RP
- Canon EOS 90D
- Canon EOS 1D X Mark III
- Canon EOS 6D Mark II
- Canon EOS Rebel SL3
- Canon EOS 250D
- Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III
- Canon PowerShot SX740
- Canon PowerShot Zoom
Types of Cards that Canon Cameras Work With
Canon has always been a huge player in the camera market. Thus, they are one of the most compatible brands that can accommodate a wide range of memory cards. Below are the most common types of memory cards that will work with the recovery methods we recommend in the article, including Canon CF card recovery – most useful for professionals. We also listed what devices they are normally used with (including Canon digital cameras, DSLR cameras, and mirrorless cameras).
Commonly used with
SD (Secure Digital)
~ 2 GB
DSLR, mirorless, digital cameras
SDHC (Secure DIgital High Capacity)
2 GB ~ 32 GB
DSLR, mirrorless, newer digital cameras
SDXC (Secure Digital Extended Capacity)
32 GB ~ 2 TB
DSLR, mirrorless, newer digital cameras
SDUC (Secure Digital Ultra Capacity)
2 TB ~ 128 TB
DSLR, mirrorless, newer digital cameras
Same as above
Mobile devices, action cameras, dashcams, security cameras, also works with DSLR cameras but not as commonly used as SDXC/UC cards
CF (Compact Flash)
DSLR, mirrorless, HD camcorders, some digital cameras
Older DSLR cameras
~ 2 TB
DSLR, mirrorless, professional camcorders
How to Recover Deleted Photos & Videos From a Canon Camera
The best way to recover deleted photos and videos from a Canon camera is to detach its memory card (see above section) and connect it to your computer using a USB-type or built-in card reader. Then, you can recover deleted files from your SD card (or any memory card listed above) using a data recovery tool. Most data recovery software can recognize memory cards just fine, so you won’t encounter many problems during the process of restoration.
For this article, we’ll be demonstrating this task using Disk Drill and Stellar Photo Recovery. Both tools are very popular for recovering data from different devices, including professional cameras. They will work well for Canon SD card recovery. Read through our step-by-step guides below (which include screenshots) to decide which tool suits you better.
Disk Drill is only free for up to 500MB worth of data, while Stellar Photo Recovery offers no free recovery. Totally free SD card recovery software exists, but due to their limitations they will not be able to handle the massive amount of RAW data we’ll be recovering from a Canon camera.
Option A: Disk Drill
Disk Drill is a popular data recovery software that is not only effective at restoring data, but is also very easy to use and understand – even if you never tried recovering data before. Beyond that, what we love about Disk Drill is that one tool recovers all file types.
Unlike other software that offers separate subscriptions based on file type, with Disk Drill, you can recover photos, videos, audio files, documents, and more – it’s even capable of RAW SD card recovery (we cover all of this and more, including Disk Drill’s free additional tools, in our full Disk Drill review). This makes it a super useful tool to have at home or in the office.
- Plug in your SD card to your computer using a USB-type card reader or your laptop’s built-in card reader.
- Download and install Disk Drill. Then, launch it by double-clicking its icon.
- Select your SD card from the drive selection list, then click “Search for lost data”.
- Wait for Disk Drill to complete its can. Then, click “Review found items”.
- You’ll be presented with a list of files that Disk Drill found. You can use the search bar and the file type sidebar on the left-most side to narrow down your search. If we want to recover a raw Canon photo, we can type “CR2” (Canon raw extension) in the search bar and filter results by Pictures only.
- Preview any file (including videos) by hovering your mouse pointer to the left of its file name, then clicking the eye button that appears. Disk Drill can also preview raw files, as I’ll demonstrate with an old photo I took with my Canon 700D:
- Select the files you want to recover from your SD card by ticking the boxes in the checkbox column. Once you’re satisfied with your selection, click “Recover”.
- Select the destination folder for your recovered files – make sure to select a location on your computer, and not on your SD card (otherwise, you may overwrite your existing data.). Then, click “OK”.
Option B: Stellar Photo Recovery
Stellar Photo Recovery is a software specially designed to recover video, photo, and audio file formats from solid-state drives, hard drives, USB flash drives, and SD cards. It was built by the same company who created Stellar Data Recovery, a tool trusted by many users, and which we covered on-site in our Stellar Data Recovery review.
Unfortunately, you will have to pay for another subscription if you want to recover other file types. However, if you only want to recover deleted videos from your SD card (as well as photo and audio files), it’s a good choice. To recover deleted photos from Canon camera SD card, do the following:
- Insert your memory card into your computer using a USB-type or built-in card reader.
- Download and install Stellar Photo Recovery from Stellar’s official website.
- Launch Stellar Photo Recovery. You may be greeted by a popup screen to scan your memory card – exit out of it to go to Stellar’s main screen. Then, select your memory card from the list, toggle on the “Deep Scan” option on the bottom-left corner of the window, then click “Scan”.
- Once the scan is complete, click “OK”.
- Make sure the preview is toggled on, and click on any file to display it in the preview window. Like Disk Drill, Stellar Photo Recovery can preview most raw Canon files.
- Select the files you want to recover by ticking the checkboxes in the left-most column, then click “Recover”.
- At this point, you’ll be prompted to activate your copy of the software using an activation key – Stellar will also launch your browser to the page where you can pay for a copy. If you have an activated copy, simply select a location on your computer (not on your memory card) where Stellar will save your files and complete the process.
Can I Restore Data From a Camera Directly?
No, you can’t. Years ago, devices used a file transfer protocol called UMS (USB Mass Storage), which gave users and other devices access to the file system. With these older devices, you could freely drag-and-drop files to and from a computer, and third-party software could easily extract and restore data.
Modern devices (including mobile devices, cameras, camcorders, and similar) now use a file transfer protocol called “MTP” (Media Transfer Protocol), which does not give users and other devices access to its file system. Data recovery software will also not be able to access the data in the device’s file system.
Memory cards, however, are flash storage. You can easily access their file system and use data recovery software without any problems. This is why we recommend scanning your memory card directly as the best method of recovering data from your Canon camera. Jump to this section of the article for a step-by-step guide: How to Recover Deleted Photos & Videos From a Canon Camera.
Your data is critical – but there are so many things that can cause them to go missing. This is a friendly reminder from the Cleverfiles team to always back up your data (Disk Drill offers this feature for free – it’s called “Byte-to-Byte Backup” and it works super well), both on a physical drive and in the cloud if possible. But having a working knowledge of data recovery and Canon file recovery software is an additional safety net we hope you never need (but won’t let you down when you eventually do).
Alejandro Santos was both a tech guy and a writer early on in his life. As a kid, you’d find him in his uncle’s repair shop helping fix customers’ computers. Today, you’ll find his work on data recovery and software testing published on multiple tech websites, continuing to help users from afar.
Andrey Vasilyev is an Editorial Advisor for Handy Recovery. Andrey is a software engineer expert with extensive expertise in data recovery, computer forensics, and data litigation. Andrey brings over 12 years of experience in software development, database administration, and hardware repair to the team.